I came to the decision to run for Clerk of Superior Court after hearing from county residents and legal professionals who expressed a strong desire for change in this important position within our local court system.
Our Clerk's office is the public face of our court system. Because of this, everyone should be made to feel welcome, should be treated with empathy, and should expect information that helps facilitate their experience through personal interaction and tools that employ modern technology. Moreover, the office should enthusiastically partner with other court officials and community organization who share the goal of improving access to justice.
On any day you find yourself at the Clerk of Court's office, you are probably not having a good day. You are either dealing with a citation, have been charged with a crime, planning on suing someone, or being sued yourself. Perhaps you are there because a loved one needs a guardian, or there has been a recent death in your family and probate proceedings need to begin. Maybe you are a couple who was only recently allowed to marry under North Carolina law, but have found as you begin planning for a family, other laws that should protect the rights of your children and you as a parent, have not caught up with your lived reality. These are circumstances that require the highest degree of professionalism and an exercise of judicial discretion that ensures all are treated with respect, and that efficient processes that protect against possible fraud are in place, but tempered with discretion so as not to perpetuate the criminalization of poverty in our community.
Your contribution to my campaign will help make these goals a reality: improving and modernizing the management of the Clerk’s office, ensuring that the office is welcoming to all and helps facilitate the challenging experience of being in court, and improving the partnerships it has with others in the justice system and throughout the community to address policies that can result in the criminalization of poverty.
As an almost 30 year resident of Orange County, as an attorney in private practice, and as an elected official, I have been a state-wide leader on the issues of criminal justice reform, improving access to the courts, social justice, and ballot access. For almost two decades, I have worked as a criminal defense attorney and non-profit leader. I come to this race with a commitment to improving and modernizing the functioning of the Clerk’s office, making it a true and eager partner with other court officials, and to ensuring all who seek its services are made to feel welcome.
Previously, I served the Town of Chapel Hill, first as a Councilmember from 2001-2009, and as Mayor from 2009-2015.
I was blessed to have grown up the son of USAF Chief Master Sergeant and a registered nurse. I joined the Kleinschmidt family in Bellville, Illinois, and lived in Hawaii and New Mexico before moving to North Carolina as a child. In 1992, I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in Education and spent five years in the classroom teaching Social Studies. Since graduating from the UNC-CH School of Law in 2000, I have lobbied for criminal justice reform and civil rights, and represented clients in cases involving life and death all across the state. I led the non-profit, the Fair Trial Initiative from 2006 to 2012 where I trained young lawyers to provide high quality capital defense representation. Formerly a partner at Tin Fulton Walker & Owen, I now operate a solo law practice in Chapel Hill.
From 2001-2003, I served on the board of Equality NC, and was a member of the board of the Int'l Network of Gay & Lesbian Officials. From 2003-2009, I was on the board of the NC ACLU serving as its President in 2008-2009. I continue to serve as a steering committee member of the Mayors Innovation Project, and am very proud to have been the attorney-coach of the award-winning Chapel Hill High School Mock Team for many years.
I am an active member of the United Church of Chapel Hill, and live in Chapel Hill with my partner, Matt DeBellis, and our dog Ellie.
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March 9, 2018
I want to thank everyone who has contributed to my campaign for Orange County Clerk of Superior Court on the CrowdPac fundraising site. Combining the online donations and the checks I've received directly, we're making real progress toward our budget goal.
The first batch of yard signs have been ordered! Visit my facebook page to get a look at it and send me a direct message if you'd like one to place in your yard. We toyed around with the idea of changing our color, but decided to stick with the "Kleinschmidt Green." Hope you like it!
Please know that without your financial support, we couldn't have placed this order this soon and thank goodness we were able to. This primary race is being run on a very contracted timeline. Only 8 weeks to go, and without a Republican on the ballot, May 8th will decide this race.
There's still lots to do and it's vitally important that we reach our $10,000 CrowdPac goal. We're busy planning for how we are going to reach voters via social media and direct mail and it's going to require even more help.
I hope you will consider returning to the CrowdPac site and endorsing the campaign. There you can share with others what inspired you to give. You can also share this link with your friends https://www.crowdpac.com/campa... and encourage them to join you in supporting the campaign.
Together, we can modernize the office of the Clerk of Court, make sure that everyone who uses it's services is respected and made to feel welcomed, and we can join other stakeholders in developing and implementing important reforms.
US Post: 102 Boulder Ln., Chapel Hill, NC 27514